A view from inside the culture and community of the greater Norfolk metro, with AltDaily editor-in-chief Jesse Scaccia.
Coming at you live from Cafe Stella in Nawfuck Virginia on Tuesday, September 6, 2011.
Soundtrack: John Coltrane’s “My Favorite Things”
What I saw riding my bike here:
So I was getting coffee at Cure this morning with a reader. Well, I wish I could call her a reader. More of a concerned citizen of Norfolk’s creative underclass.
“I heard about AltDaily from a friend,” she said, “who sent me a link to a particularly bad story and the note, ‘This is what we get for an alt magazine?'”
[Footnote: With that I felt a rumbling in my stomach. My ego burst out through my belly button, ran out the door, sprinted south on Botetourt, and has since been hiding in the bowels of the Wisconsin.]
Yeah. Cringe. A really hard thing to hear. But, thankfully, that was only a fraction of the conversation I had with Logan. Most of the time was spent with her asking me questions about AltDaily–creation story, vision, goals, budget. She offered me suggestions on how to make it better. She thinks we should better curate the content. If AltDaily were hers, she would do a site redesign that makes the front page a quieter, more intuitive experience. Her last suggestion I’m doing right now: that AltDaily should have more classic ‘blog’ aspects, shorter posts that share our opinions and give the behind-the-scenes of what we’re doing to try to make this a more vibrant, community-minded place to live.
I’m going to try this for a week and see how it goes. The goal is a post a day, try to keep them less than 600 words, with pictures and words and snippets of conversation from inside the rooms where decisions that affect your culture are being made. If you enjoy it I’ll keep it up for a while. Plus I’m sick of wasting all my words on God damn emails.
Breakfast with artist and ODU art professor Rick Nickel
Rick came by to talk about the cartoon he is going to try to make for our new print edition, Cannonball City. Rick is a true gentleman, a new dad, an artist’s artist. A lot of Cannonball City is going to be vaguely serious, so we hope Rick can add some levity and shine some light on the absurdity of it all. I asked him how he judges his work, which are largely ceramic sculptures. “When it looks like the drawing from my notebook it’s good.” Right on Rick Nickel, a true blue artist if there ever was one.
Note to young artists: First get good, and then get good at selling yourself.
I asked Rick why there aren’t more galleries around here, particularly more underground/indie ones curated by students.
“I think what’s missing,” he said, “is need.”
I’ll let you chew on that one on your own time.
That fascinating and horrible and always amazing Internet
In today’s If You Read the Bicycle News BC wrote about Wes’ “Down with the Barricades! Video Shoot.” I was there on Sunday. Apparently some absolute dumb dumb ran into The Tide coming up the ramp at the Brambleton Bridge. [General rule: Anytime there is a collision between a train and anything else, it is anything else’s fault.] HRT’s response was to install some especially clunky barriers that one has to awkwardly navigate while approaching the tracks.
Wes Cheney is a true activist and a real life character. He is a giant with a bald head, beard, and a gleam in his eye that reveals both his intelligence and mostly-there-but-not-100% sanity. Wes is an ornery cuss and I love him for it.
Anyway, Wes is also a professional videographer, so he had gathered a bunch of local cyclists to film them plodding and bumping through HRT’s barriers. These barriers make sense because a huge part of The Tide’s success rests on perception. HRT needs to do everything in its power to make sure no one gets hurt in or around that thing.
From another perspective the barriers are a slap in the face of a bikeable Norfolk. One of the most scenic (and practical) parts of all of Hampton Roads’ bike infrastructure is the Elizabeth River Trail. On the ERT you can, for the most part, comfortably get from Harbor Park, through Freemason, through Lambert’s Point, through West Ghent, all the way to ODU. The Brambleton Bridge is a part of the ERT. So if people in tricycles, recumbent bikes, our handicapped friends and even those with wide double strollers can’t get through that part comfortably or at all, the entire system kinda falls apart for them.
So we posted BC’s column. Not long after we got this Tweet from Philip Shucet, head of HRT:
@AltDaily Cool idea. Thankfully the video won’t include a cyclist getting hit by a train. Those barricades are staying there for a reason.
Well then. ‘Snap,’ if you will.
I have a feeling this response won’t stop Wes, whose spirit animal just might be the honey badger.
Speaking of, time for a video interlude.
A number of people have asked me if we’re going to have any 9/11 coverage. We might, but somebody would have to come to me with a hella thoughtful pitch. One of my childhood buddies died in the World Trade Center that day. I’m sure a lot of the media coverage will be compassionate. I’m sure a lot of it will also be making a lecherous buck off a modern American tragedy.
By the way, until newspapers and television media start producing stories that humanize the ‘collateral damage’ (read: dead Middle Eastern women, children, and elderly) of these wars, their whole stance of ‘objectivity’ is out the window. Our soldiers are heroes and let God sort out the dead? No. It’s not that simple. And as much as I loved my friend Tyler, I’m not going to write something about what a wonderful person he was, even though he was. Because I don’t believe in justifying violence and, just below the surface, that’s what a lot of the media’s 9/11 coverage is going to be doing.
Soundtrack change to Arcade Fire’s “The Suburbs”
Ah, so much more I wanted to get to and I’m over 1,000 words. Quick shots before I ride off into the dusk:
– We are starting the AltDaily Volunteers program. More to come on that this week, but we’re stoked. Get ready to work, y’all. A community that gives freely is a community people are proud to call home.
– Last week I went to Virginia Stage Company’s season preview. I’ll tell you something about the crew over there: they are professional, fun, and they love what they do. It’s always a good night at Empire when the cast from a show comes by after the curtain’s gone down to have a few and whoop it up. I’m particularly excited for “Death of a Salesman,” directed by VSC’s artistic director, Chris Hanna. I’ve never seen it live.
– Vivian Paige stopped by the office last week. If you don’t read Vivian you don’t know what’s going on in the local political menagerie. A couple highlights:
On Norfolk’s Old Boys Club: “They’ve got that thing figured out. They’ll never die because right now they’re putting their kids and their kids’ friends in line to take their places.” Then she told me a story about a judge that depressed the heck out of me.
On the one thing she most wants to change about Norfolk politics: “Take the job of redistricting out of the hands of the politicians getting redistricted. It doesn’t make any sense this way.” She also finds it absurd that Norfolk doesn’t have an elected school board.
– I went to three soul soothing shows this past weekend:
1. There was Skye Zentz and her lovely husband Gabriel Robinson at (open again!) Kerouac’s. Every time I hear Skye’s voice I’m surprised at how beautiful and clear it is. You never get used to a voice like that.
2. I checked out Two Dollar Bill Band and Digging Up Virgins at Taphouse later that night. Digging Up Virgins’ frontman William Huberdeau has got the spirit, man! His songs don’t all necessarily sound like ‘songs’ and sometimes it’s hard to hear the words, but damn if he doesn’t get you out of your seat to dance in front of him like kids in front of the pinata at an awesome kid’s birthday party.
Will: Pleasaaaassesse don’t let yourself harden. Please keep making and playing music.
3. The other night I saw Glass Pennies, The Larchmont Trash, and The Super Vacations at Belmont. (1) Even though Jill Berch has been doing great things there for a while now, Belmont is still an under-rated local music venue. (2) It’s not that Glass Pennies could be something special. They already are. Find a way to see them. Stay a few rows back if you fright easy.
So much good living here in Nawfuck I didn’t get to! Damn! It’s going to be really hard to keep these under 600 words… I love you until next time and even between now and then.